Sunday, November 30, 2008

New nanotechnology educational resource offers teachers ready-to-use modules

(Nanowerk News) AccessNano is a unique, cutting-edge nanotechnology educational resource designed to introduce accessible and innovative science and technology into Australian secondary school classrooms. AccessNano aims to provide teachers with a fresh new approach to teaching science in their school, as well as stimulating new ideas and opening pathways for careers in nanotechnology for students.
AccessNano is an Australian government initiative funded through the Australian Office of Nanotechnology, under the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research in working with the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
AccessNano provides teachers with 13 ready-to-use, versatile, web-based teaching modules, featuring PowerPoint presentations, experiments, activities, animations and links to interactive websites. Topics covered fit into current Australian curricula requirements, and include teaching units for Years 7-11.
Source: NanoWerk

Micro Fuel Cells Get Closer to Replacing Batteries

Micro Fuel Cells Get Closer to Replacing Batteries

Mobile electronics have the potential to offer digital luxuries beyond our imagination, but they will never get there on today’s lithium ion batteries. Power has been the weak spot in the development of more advanced mobile electronics, and the need for power will become even more important as devices feature more energy-sapping applications.

Source:Micro Fuel Cells Get Closer to Replacing Batteries

Indo-German science ties

NEW DELHI: A team of German science journalists is on a 10-day visit to India. The purpose of the visit is to familiarise themselves with the science and education system in India.

"India is increasingly becoming a global player and an important partner in the field of science,” says Eva-Maria Streier, head, press and public relations division, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, adding that while in Delhi the team will be getting an idea of the Indian education policies, their visit to the institutes in Bangalore and Hyderabad will give them an idea about the IT industry and biotechnology respectively. Martin Spiewak, who mainly writes about education and science politics, and is an editor of the German weekly newspaper, Die Zeit, is looking forward to his stay in India. He will be trying to find out more about the quality and system of higher education in science in India. READ MORE...

Source: Times of India

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Direct methanol fuel cells could power portable devices

By: Dennis Ndaba
Published: 14 Nov 08 - 0:00
Fuel cells can contribute to energy security, because they possess the potential to convert potentially renewable fuels, such as hydrogen, methanol or ethanol, cleanly and efficiently into electrical energy, says the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR’s) Mark Rohwer.
They are of particular interest to South Africa, as they incorporate catalytic metals, like platinum, of which three-quarters of the world’s known reserves are found in South Africa.
A fuel cell is a device that converts chemical energy directly into electrical energy. In contrast, conventional production of electricity from fossil fuels involves conversion of the chemical energy in the fuel into thermal energy, then kinetic energy and finally into electrical energy.

Now, ISRO scientists develop hydrogen fuel cells to power bus

Bangalore, Nov 17 (PTI) India's space scientists have developed hydrogen fuel cells to power an automobile bus by leveraging their know-how of the homegrown cryogenic technology for rockets.The two-year effort has yielded positive results and the scientists are now readying for the fuel cells to be fitted into a bus."That's not exactly the cryogenic technology... (It's) liquid hydrogen handling and that's where we have some expertise. So, we have finalised the design", Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation, G Madhavan Nair told PTI here.According to Honorary Adviser of ISRO V Gnana Gandhi leading the technical team in this project, ISRO and Tata Motors entered into an MoU in 2006 to design and develop an automobile bus using hydrogen as a fuel through fuel cell route.Nair said: "Tatas are taking the responsibility for the locomotive part of it, and hydrogen handling system also. First protomodel has been assembled. Results are good. May be next year, it should be on the road".Gandhi said: "We are planning to integrate the system in the first quarter of next year (January-March 2009), and vehicle integration in the second quarter".He said the hydrogen cells are a spin-off of the cryogenic technology that ISRO has been developing for the last few years. PTI
Source: PTI

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An electric workout through pedal power

Gyms hook up exercise bikes to TVs, laptops, and batteries to let their patrons power the place. By Vijaysree Venkatraman Correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor/ November 13, 2008 edition

Cambridge, Mass.
After classes, Sally Peach, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has a long list of to-dos.
She wants to hit the gym, tackle school work, and, as captain of an intramural soccer team and member of a campus health advocacy program, she has plenty of e-mail to respond to every evening.
“Though I know I am being productive, it feels like a complete waste of time to sit there and do just [e-mail replies],” says Ms. Peach.
So, once she arrives at the gym, Peach makes a beeline for a special stationary bike that has a laptop built into the front. The computer is not plugged in. There is an empty space where the battery once fit. But when Peach starts pedaling, the computer fires up. Her spinning workout powers the laptop – and lets her cross off two tasks at once.
Pedal power has been a small-time alternative-energy source for ages. Many innovators have tried to tap the simple motion to power devices – especially those engineered for developing countries, where power grids are unreliable. But few designs have stuck. People aren’t willing to exert much energy just to run simple devices.
But in gyms across the country, ecoconscious patrons are asking why cardio equipment needs to drain power, when the exercisers are already eager to burn calories. Now, fitness centers are beginning to experiment with ways to put muscle strength to good use.
“The idea pretty much sold itself,” says Adam Boesel, a personal trainer in Portland, Ore.
He saw a television report about a Hong Kong gym with human-powered equipment and set out to create an eco-friendly fitness center in his hometown. Mr. Boesel’s Green Microgym opened in late August and has already registered more than 100 members.
The gym chose Team Dynamo stationary bikes, which harness the power of four connected bicycles to generate an average of up to 200 watts per hour. That’s enough to power a LCD television and stereo system for the duration of the ride, according to Team Dynamo inventor Mike Taggett. “And you don’t have to be cycling champ Lance Armstrong to do this because it is a team effort,” he says, referring to how four bikers help charge the batteries.
At Green Microgym, electricity generated by the bikes flows into a bank of batteries, which, in turn, powers devices. Boesel plans to install a “grid-tie” inverter, which allows the generated energy to stream directly into the power grid. This device allows creators of alternative energy, such as solar and wind, to “spin the meter backward” and sell power to their local utility company.
The idea is to meet the gym’s power requirements – kept low by a prudent use of plugged-in devices – with solar panels and an array of energy-producing equipment, says Boesel.
Power bike setups of all sizesDavid Butcher, a California Web manager, gets his daily workout on a generator-bike he built three years ago. Pedaling at a steady pace, he charges many appliances at once: the robotic vacuum cleaner, a set of lights, and his laptop. Mr. Butcher webcasts live from his Los Gatos, Calif. basement during these 40-minute sessions. Thanks to the energizing workout, “I feel like a rocket now,” he says, a little breathless from his morning exercise.
Elsewhere, others are testing retrofitted equipment in well-trafficked commercial gyms. A group spinning class can produce a monthly output of 300 kilowatt-hours – enough energy to light six homes for a month and cut 420 pounds of carbon emission, according to Jay Whelan, founder of Green Revolution.
“There is no use it or lose it, or battery maintenance, because the power goes right back to the grid,” says Mr. Whelan, a clean-energy entrepreneur who recently retrofitted bikes for the spin class at the 1,200-member Ridgefield Fitness Club in Connecticut.
Elliptical trainers, another popular piece of cardio equipment, are a good source of human power.
“They are even better than bikes since they involve both arm and leg muscles,” says Hudson Harr, founder of in St. Petersburg, Fla. In April, his start-up company installed an array of retrofitted ellipticals at the 28,000-member Gainesville (Fla.) Health & Fitness Center. A student gym at the University of Florida in Gainesville was next on his list. “Not doing this would be such a waste of energy,” says David Bowles, the school’s director of recreational sports.
How to balance the workoutThe idea of using human energy to power appliances – instead of using batteries – is catching on for two reasons: fun and environment-consciousness, says Arjen Jansen, a researcher in human-powered energy systems at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.
“Laptops and televisions have evolved and the designs are very energy-efficient, says Jason Moore, a Fulbright scholar studying bicycle design at the Dutch university. Now that these rigs are better at capturing energy, gyms are can put them to use – powering little perks such as TVs, laptops, and lights.
Still, few people go to a fitness center in order to generate electricity.
“People go the gym primarily to get a good workout,” says Whelan from Green Revolution. The workout equipment should feel just like it did before the retrofitting, he emphasizes. Raising the resistance level on these machines will increase the output exponentially, but it might ruin the experience for his customers. He opts to let the rider have complete control over the settings, same as before.
What’s next for ecogyms?“What we are doing now is taking baby steps in the right direction,” says Boesel of Green Microgym.
All aerobic equipment, including Stairmasters and rowing machines, can be retrofitted to generate power. Each device, however, comes with its own set of engineering challenges. And while the industry is most driven by retrofitting companies, “in the future, manufacturers may offer power-generation as an option on cardio equipment,” says Joe Cirulli, owner of the Gainesville Health & Fitness Center.
Some energy savings could be incidental. “As the exerciser’s output exceeds the display needs, the extra power is ‘shunted’ to resistors, which then heat up simply to shed the energy that is created,” says Mr. Taggett of Team Dynamo. The cardio room warms up and requires extra air-conditioning in warmer climates. With these new machines, however, the excess energy is channeled into creating power.
As exercisers become aware of the metrics of human power-production, it could push them to work harder.
“What we have been finding is that people challenge themselves to work a little bit harder because now they can measure how much energy they create,” says Whelan. “It seems like there is a personal goal to try and create just a little bit more than the last time they worked out.”
When they gravitate to these innovative systems, gym-goers could also move away from power-hogging equipment. Once people figure out that the average treadmill takes 1,500-2,000 watts to run, they may switch to power-producing machines, says Taggett.
“Right now, it would take nine Lance Armstrongs or 15 nonathletes to keep one treadmill chugging along,” he says.
Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Light Weight Hydrogen 'Tank' Could Fuel Hydrogen Economy

Dutch-sponsored researcher Robin Gremaud has shown that an alloy of the metals magnesium, titanium and nickel is excellent at absorbing hydrogen. This light alloy brings us a step closer to the everyday use of hydrogen as a source of fuel for powering vehicles. A hydrogen ‘tank’ using this alloy would have a relative weight that is sixty percent less than a battery pack.

In order to find the best alloy Gremaud developed a method which enabled simultaneous testing of thousands of samples of different metals for their capacity to absorb hydrogen.

Hydrogen is considered to be a clean and therefore important fuel of the future. This gas can be used directly in cars in an internal combustion engine, like in BMW’s hydrogen vehicle, or it can be converted into electrical energy in so-called fuel cells, like in the Citaro buses in service in Amsterdam. READ MORE...
Source: ScienceDaily

High-temperature Superconductors: New Method Exploring 'Energy Gap' Shows Electron Pairs Exist Before Superconductivity Sets In

Like astronomers tweaking images to gain a more detailed glimpse of distant stars, physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have found ways to sharpen images of the energy spectra in high-temperature superconductors — materials that carry electrical current effortlessly when cooled below a certain temperature.

These new imaging methods confirm that the electron pairs needed to carry current emerge above the transition temperature, before superconductivity sets in, but only in a particular direction. READ MORE...

Source: ScienceDaily

Digital revolution comes to printed word

By Eric Pfanner
Published: November 7, 2008

PARIS: "Why are books the last bastion of analog?" Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of, asked last November as his company unveiled the Kindle, a portable, electronic book-reading device. Long after other media had joined the digital revolution - in some cases only after suffering its ravages - book publishers clung to the reassuringly low-tech tools of printing press, paper and ink.

A year later, that bastion is starting to yield. The world of books is going digital, too.
Last week, American authors and publishers reached an agreement with Google to settle lawsuits over the company's Book Search program, under which Google is scanning millions of books and making their contents available on the Internet. The deal allows Google to sell electronic versions of copyrighted works that have gone out of print, a category that includes the vast majority of the world's books.

"So almost overnight, not only has the largest publishing deal been struck, but the largest bookshop in the world has been built, even if it is not quite open for business yet," wrote Neill Denny, editor of The Bookseller, a trade publication based in London, on his blog.

The settlement remains subject to approval by a U.S. court, and the bookshop would operate only in the United States for now. But the agreement is only one of many initiatives under which books are making what may be the biggest technological leap since Gutenberg invented the printing press. READ MORE...

Source: International Herald Tribune

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

UPS Systems helps prove hydrogen fuel cells as an energy source for businesses

Hungerford, UK--UPS Systems plc will supply and install a hydrogen fuel cell for the Environmental Energy Technology Centre (EETC) in Yorkshire. The Centre aims to prove that hydrogen is a viable source of energy, which is more reliable, more cost effective and ultimately more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels.

Yorkshire Forward commissioned the Centre located on the Advanced Manufacturing Park on the Rotherham-Sheffield border. Designed to be an iconic zero-carbon building, it encourages the development and commercialisation of environmental energy technologies.

The main feature of the Centre is its "Hydrogen Mini-Grid System" (HMGS) which has been developed by Pure Energy in the Shetlands and the energy consultancy, TNEI. The HMGS is an innovative system which supplies power to the building, enabling it to be self sufficient. It uses renewable energy produced by a 225kW wind turbine, which will produce over 500MWh each year - more than enough to power the Centre.

Through its close working relationship with Pure Energy, UPS Systems will be providing the EETC with a 30kW power system comprising nine inverters, three 12kW fuel cells, 240Ah batteries and supervisory software to control the system. These components will be installed and integrated with the HMGS to form an end-to-end renewable energy process to power the EETC's facilities.

With sufficient wind, the Centre's turbine will generate enough electricity to power both the onsite facilities and an electrolyser that will, in turn, create hydrogen. The hydrogen will then be compressed and stored for later use, and any excess power will be fed back into the National Grid. During periods of low wind speed, the fuel cell will automatically activate, converting the stored hydrogen into electricity and ensuring a continuous supply of power to the EETC.
Managing Director of UPS Systems Tom Sperrey commented: "This project will prove to be important in the progression of hydrogen and fuel cell technology as viable alternative sources of energy. The Environmental Energy Technology Centre demonstrates how businesses can potentially be self sufficient by using renewable energy."

Dr. Jason Stoyel, Technical Manager at TNEI concluded, "The HMGS is at present the largest wind-to-hydrogen installation in the UK and is the first to incorporate both the ability to dispense high pressure hydrogen for vehicle refuelling as well as a fuel cell to generate electricity. UPS Systems' expertise in fuel cells is vital to the success of the project and will help make the EETC a truly Carbon Neutral facility."

UPS Systems plc ( is the UK's largest independent supplier of standby power solutions. Through its independent position, allied to close working relationships with the world's leading manufacturers, the company is uniquely able to offer impartial technical advice on the widest range of standby power solutions. An authority on fuel cell technology, UPS Systems implemented the UK's first two hydrogen fuel cells providing standby power, and is currently working on projects where the technology will be used for the supply of backup or prime power to utilities, telecommunications, remote telemetry, portable signage and renewable energy applications.

The Advanced Manufacturing Park ( is a manufacturing technology park providing advanced solutions for organisations. The Environmental Energy Technology Centre located at the Park has a low-carbon life time design and unique energy system.
Pure Energy ( provides off-grid renewable hydrogen solutions for the community, private and public sector.

TNEI ( is an independent consultancy specialising in five key energy services: Energy Management; Power Systems and Technology; Planning and Environmental; Culture, Strategy and Sustainability and Software Development incorporating IPSA Power.

Yorkshire Forward ( is the Regional Development Agency charged with improving the Yorkshire and Humber economy. It is a business-led organisation that aims to help improve the region's relative economic performance and reduce social and economic disparities by encouraging public and private investment.

CONTACT: Alice Cambata, Resonates SLM Ltd Tel: +44 (0)1635 898 363 e-mail:

Nanotechnology sparks fears for the future

Nanomaterials are likely to kill people in the future just as asbestos did unless extensive safety checks are put in place, a Royal Commission report has said.

The team of experts assessing the likely impacts of the emerging technology are worried that when nanomaterials escape into the environment they will damage people and wildlife but that it will be years before the effects are seen.

Past generations have brought into general usage materials such as asbestos, leaded petrol, CFCs and cigarettes without adequately considering the potential damage and the commission fears nanomaterials will prove similarly dangerous. READ MORE...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Indian refiner to bottle water from fuel-cell plant

Mumbai-based Bharat Petroleum (BOM: BPCL.BO) said it plans to break into the bottled water business to capitalize on the byproduct of hydrogen fuel cells.

State-run Bharat has tentative plans for a 1,000-megawatt hydrogen fuel cell plant during the next three to five years. READ MORE...

Courtesy: Dr S Vasudevan

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Golden slingshot

There is an article on "Golden slingshot" appeared in Economist.
The next generation of cancer treatments may be delivered by nanoparticles.

Record High Performance With New Solar Cells

Researchers in China and Switzerland are reporting the highest efficiency ever for a promising new genre of solar cells, which many scientists think offer the best hope for making the sun a mainstay source of energy in the future. The photovoltaic cells, called dye-sensitized solar cells or Gr├Ątzel cells, could expand the use of solar energy for homes, businesses, and other practical applications, the scientists say. READ MORE...

Source: ScienceDaily (Nov. 3, 2008)

Light Weight Hydrogen 'Tank' Could Fuel Hydrogen Economy

Dutch-sponsored researcher Robin Gremaud has shown that an alloy of the metals magnesium, titanium and nickel is excellent at absorbing hydrogen. This light alloy brings us a step closer to the everyday use of hydrogen as a source of fuel for powering vehicles. A hydrogen ‘tank’ using this alloy would have a relative weight that is sixty percent less than a battery pack.

Source: ScienceDaily (Nov. 5, 2008)

Connecting Private Tutors and Students

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Tutor Hunt is a service for both pupils and tutors wishing to advertise their service on this site. We feel by making this site free we are under no obligation to list anyone. Should we have a reason that we think a tutor shouldn't be listed we simply won't list them online. This leaves us with an unbiased source for private tutors.

Reducing Pollution: Green Future For Scrap Iron

Zhang, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, recently concluded a five-year research project in which he and his colleagues at Tongji University in Shanghai used two million pounds of iron to detoxify pollutants in industrial wastewater.

The project, carried out in Shanghai, was the largest in history to use iron in an environmental application. The iron, called zero valent iron (ZVI) because it is not oxidized, was obtained in the form of shavings or turnings from local metal-processing shops for less than 15 cents a pound.
Source: ScienceDaily (Nov. 7, 2008)

Clean energy to supply half of Asia's electricity needs by 2050

MANILA, Philippines - Renewable energy sources will account for 67 percent of the electricity produced in developing countries in Asia by 2050, a report by Greenpeace and the the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) said. Renewable energy will supplant “the need for nuclear energy and reducing requirements for fossil fuel-fired power plants," the report said.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New type of fuel found in Patagonia fungus

BOZEMAN, Mont. -- A team led by a Montana State University professor has found a fungus that produces a new type of diesel fuel, which they say holds great promise.

Calling the fungus' output "myco-diesel," Gary Strobel and his collaborators describe their initial observations in the November issue of Microbiology.

The discovery may offer an alternative to fossil fuels, said Strobel, MSU professor of plant sciences and plant pathology. The find is even bigger, he said, than his 1993 discovery of fungus that contained the anticancer drug taxol. READ MORE...

Source: Erekalert